I’d like to say that this was a moment of deep significance for me after a slow acceptance of the coincidence of my own thoughts and the Christian practice I’ve found in this parish.
I’d like to say it, but it wouldn’t be true. I suspect I’m not alone in thinking that the significance of this event only comes later and that, in time, I may look back and point to it as a significant milestone in my life.
It’s probably futile to rationalise my reasons for being confirmed. On the facetious side, I’ve been “Lesley’d”. Under the combined onslaught from both my wife and our Rector I was surely going to succumb.
Somewhat more seriously, Karen Armstrong makes the point that religion is not something that people thought, but something they did . Ritual is an essential part, giving a pathway to a deeper, albeit personal and probably incommunicable, understanding. I’ve received a blessing at communion for a couple of years now. It’s been increasingly important to me, but I’ve been aware that it was not the full ritual and felt it was time to take the next step.
However, getting back to thoughts about the actual event. There were the profound and, of course, the ridiculous, probably mildly sacrilegious ones.
On the profound side, the things I found deeply moving were the support given by members of the parish I’ve come to know in recent years. To see Tia, Kate and Tom there (and their parents) was very special and something to cherish. This isn’t to minimise the feeling of acceptance into the community from all members of the congregation. It felt a bit like coming home after a long absence.
The Bishop wanted a few personal words with us beforehand. We had a chat about why we were there, and then he prayed for us. I don’t know what is was like for the other participants, but I felt he was trying to make a very special effort with me. At times, there seemed to be almost a note of desperation in his voice! (You can make up your own mind about the profundity or otherwise of this comment.)
During the actual service, I was slightly concerned about where I should be at any particular time! I was playing in the band, reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (hadn’t full stops been invented when he wrote his letters?) and being “done”. Then there was the actual moment of Communion. I didn’t spill the wine, or grab it from the hands (relief).
However, I did find the incredibly dry wafer stuck like epoxy resin to my tongue and I was slightly preoccupied in trying to remove it without sticking my finger in my mouth. Probably not the sentiment one should have at this auspicious occasion, but let’s tell it like it was.
Finally, we were given candles and were led out to the narthex. End of ceremony, lots of photographs to be embarrassed about at a later time, and cakes and wine. At this point I apparently managed to embarrass (wife) Lesley by pointing out that the Bishop’s crook wasn’t much good for sheep or people but probably alright for smiting – definitely an Old Testament sort of implement.
Still, I’ve been done. Let’s see how we go from here.